8 months ago

Radical Islam, Social Media and the Impact of Trump’s Travel Ban in Alabama

Now that the Supreme Court has approved President Trump’s travel ban, what’s next? Trump has argued that the ban is necessary to determine the best vetting procedures for immigrants from high-risk countries. It’s not altogether clear what changes need to be made, especially with so many questions surrounding the terrorist threat from abroad. Why do some people find the radical ideology embraced by ISIS and other terror groups so attractive? And what, if anything, can the U.S. do to combat the spread of this ideology?

The Supreme Court ruled that the travel ban on residents and refugees from Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan can continue as planned. However, the court added a caveat to the ban—if a resident has a credible relationship with a person or entity in the U.S., they are allowed entry. Additionally, visas that have already been approved will not be revoked.

The U.S. has some of the strictest vetting procedures for foreign refugees and those seeking to obtain temporary visas. With these already rigorous procedures, it’s somewhat unclear what can be done to make them more secure.  Visa applicants are subject to extensive background checks conducted by the State Department, National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, etc. Then, they are interviewed by an immigration officer who asks them questions about their home country and the nature of their travel to the U.S. Once the traveler arrives at a U.S. airport, a customs official can access all of the information gathered prior to issuing the visa. Travelers must answer more questions and officials take a second fingerprint to ensure they match. Refugees are subject to an even more stringent process.

The U.S. also has officers stationed in airports around the world. In 2015, these officers determined that 10,648 of the 16 million air travelers to the U.S. were inadmissible. Though the process is stringent, becoming complacent in the way we approach immigration may lead to unintended consequences; not only in the U.S. but around the globe.

For example, the European Union has failed to impose any significant limitations on immigration. In fact, the EU imposes fines on member countries that refuse to accept refugees. However, increasing numbers of refugees and immigrants have caused political and social turmoil in many EU nations. The number of terrorist attacks in Europe seems to have dramatically increased in recent years. London, in particular, has been subject to these attacks, with several occurring in the span of a few months.

Looking to Europe as a warning, it is apparent that action needs to be taken to enforce our already strict policies, but what can be done? One aspect of the system that desperately needs to be reexamined is the Visa Waiver Program. This program allows citizens from 38 mostly European countries to travel to the U.S. without visas; unless they are also citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Sudan. Many of the countries included in the waiver are those that are experiencing immigration issues of their own. This program needs to be reformed to ensure that these travelers have legitimate European passports and are not taking advantage of the system.

The process that we use to share information about potentially harmful immigrants may also need to be reformed. The administration needs to find a way to ease the process of sharing information through online databases between different government agencies and officials. Some changes could make it easier to consistently check for national security threats contained in an immigrant’s background.

The controversy surrounding the travel ban raises the question of what has happened to make such stringent procedures necessary. Politicians seek to implement these policies as terrorist groups like ISIS increase in violent activity. Even with such a negative and violent reputation, ISIS has been successful in recruiting efforts, with some people abandoning their home countries to join the group. What causes people to be attracted to ISIS and groups like it?

Part of the ISIS recruiting strategy is its social media presence. Social media advertising convinces young people to celebrate the brutality of ISIS because online videos depict violence in the style of an action movie. The excitement of these films masks what the real acts of ISIS- torture and brutal murder.

Recently, a shocking number of women have left their home countries to join ISIS. Why this emphasis on recruiting young women? On the surface, ISIS seems to offer many freedoms that appeal to women who live in countries where they are not politically/socially equal to men. Many young, vulnerable women feel that joining this group will boost their social status. ISIS uses propaganda that makes women feel empowered. They tell them ISIS provides an avenue to exact revenge on their home countries for holding them back. Such propaganda helps to skew their perspectives, making them believe they are accomplishing social change through senseless acts of violence.

ISIS also promises many recruits a better life, and not only to women abroad. Today there’s a breakdown of American families and a disintegration of communities. Americans once looked after one another, and families and communities gave people a sense of belonging. This isn’t as much the case today, where social media has made people more digitally connected than ever before, but lonelier than ever before.

In Midwest, there’s been a particular uptick in ISIS recruits where there are a larger number of people from the Middle East who have refused to assimilate into American Society. This has also led to an increase in American citizens fighting oversees for ISIS.

ISIS offers individuals these young Americans a chance to go on an “adventure.” A chance to belong to something greater than themselves, giving hopeless kids a sense of mission, purpose, and belonging.

ISIS also entices its recruits with things like free housing, gifts, and other amenities. Recruits are given a sense of identity and embrace the idea that the group is a community that will stick up for them. However, recruits find out the hard way how empty and poisonous this ideology can become.

The U.S. needs to make sure that ISIS recruiters are easily identifiable so we can root them out of our society once they have committed a crime against the United States. Young Muslims need to be educated in their mosque that any act of terrorism doesn’t represent a reformed interpretation of Islam. The good news is that America is not like Europe. The U.S. does an excellent job of assimilating our immigrants to our society.  However, ISIS is a group surrounded by much mystery and misleading news coverage, and there needs to be a strong effort to make clear what ISIS stands for is only sorrow and death.

Unfortunately, the fight against terror is not an easy one. Our enemy in this fight knows no nation and doesn’t fight by the rules that govern war. Our enemy is highly motivated to kill and thinks not of their safety since they desire to be martyred. So we have to not only use our military might but our military intelligence to root out the enemy wherever we find them. The travel ban won’t be as effective if our government doesn’t reform the visa waiver program which makes it so easy for ISIS fighters with European passports to get into the United States. In Alabama, there are many high-value targets in Huntsville, Mobile, and Birmingham so we can’t assume that because we live in a rural state that this war won’t come to us. Thankfully, we have some of the best-trained law enforcement anywhere defending us and our way of life. I also believe that President Trump’s Military appointments are the finest we’ve had since the end of WWII. I am glad that our foreign policy will not be governed by weakness but will not back down from showing American strength. I just hope we do not repeat the mistakes of the past and think we can westernize nations overnight.

About the author: A Guest Contributor, Mr. Reid is general practice attorney in Birmingham Alabama. He has worked for Republican leadership in the United State House of Representatives in Washington, DC, and was a health policy advisor to the Governor of Alabama. You can contact him by email at chris.reid@reidlawalabama.com or by phone at 205-913-7406. A description of his practice areas is available at  www.reidlawalabama.com.


array(1) {

4 hours ago

The Hollywood Conservative shares her views on the celebrities moving because of Trump

The Hollywood Conservative, Amanda Head, tunes in for “The Final 30” to talk about how she’s been lately and updating The Ford Faction on the places she’s been to.  Amanda sheds light on the list of celebrities moving away from America due to President Trump winning the 2016 Election.  Amanda talks about social media titans Snapchat and Instagram dumping the GIF site Giphy because of one user being offended by her search results.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

5 hours ago

Nancy Collat Goedecke is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

Nancy Collat Goedecke is a powerhouse not just in the business world, but the philanthropic sphere, as well.

She also is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact.


Goedecke, who serves as CEO of Mayer Electric Supply in Birmingham, became the first-ever woman to chair the United Way of Central Alabama fundraising campaign in 2015. Under her leadership, the charity raised $38.8 million, about $600,000 more than the previous year.

Business and philanthropy both run in the family. Her grandfather, Ben Weil, founded Mayer Electric Supply in 1930, and her parents took over the business in 1979. Their philanthropy includes $25 million in contributions to the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business, which took on the name Collat School of Business in 2013.

“I grew up watching my mom and dad give back to the community — first with their time, and then with their money and their time,” Goedecke told AL.com in 2015.

Goedecke told the website that she recalled her parents going door to door soliciting donations for the United Way. Community service, she said, is “just in my DNA.”

Goedecke worked her way up the company, starting with summer jobs in high school. After college, she worked as a sales associate in Tampa, Florida, before returning to Birmingham. She became vice chairwoman of the board in 2005 and chairwoman and CEO three years later.

The UAB Commission on the Status of Women honored Goedecke as one of seven Outstanding Women for 2015.

The list of Goedecke’s charitable activities is long. In addition to the United Way, she has supported the Collat School of Business and has contributed to the school’s Women and Infants Center. She has volunteered with the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama and Pathways of Birmingham. She has led more than a dozen fundraising campaigns, including the YWCA, the American Red Cross and Collat Jewish Family Services.

“You know how they say, you give a busy person something to do and they find a way to do it?” she told AL.com. “I don’t waste a lot of time.”

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

5 hours ago

Sexton, Petty lead Alabama by Virginia Tech 86-83

Avery Johnson has spent plenty of time trying to convince Alabama freshman star Collin Sexton to take ownership of his play and the Crimson Tide, a message the coach has repeated frequently during his team’s uneven season.

It finally seems to be getting through. The fact it took until March hardly matters.

“(Sexton’s) giving more speeches to our team, which is showing leadership,” Johnson said.

Make no mistake, however. It’s the point guard’s play — and not his talk — that sent the Crimson Tide into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Sexton shook off a shaky and foul-marred first half to score 21 of his team-high 24 points after the break as Alabama took control late in an 86-83 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.


“The coaches prepare us for stuff like this,” Sexton said. “They do so many hours of film, and they tell us all the answers to the test.”

The proof came during the second half.

Sexton made six of 10 field goals and 10 of 14 free throws over the final 20 minutes, including a jumper that got a friendly bounce off the back of the rim and a turnaround that gave the Crimson Tide a bit of breathing room in a game that featured 10 lead changes and never saw either club go in front by more than seven points.

No. 9 seed Alabama will face top-seeded Villanova in the East Region’s second round on Saturday. The Wildcats had little trouble dispatching Radford earlier Thursday.

Things weren’t nearly as easy for the Crimson Tide, who needed Sexton and freshman backcourt mate John Petty — and a serious uptick in defensive intensity in the late going — to reach the round 32 for the first time since 2006.

Sexton and Petty were in elementary school back then. Now they’re the centerpiece of Johnson’s dynamic attack with the Crimson Tide (20-15). Alabama shot 60 percent (30 of 50) from the floor. Petty, mired in a serious slump near the end of the regular season, finished with 20 points while making six of eight 3-pointers, including three in the first half to help the Crimson Tide hang around until Sexton got going.

“When I get in that type of mode, I feel like no one can stop me from shooting the ball,” Petty said. “I always have my eyes locked on my target and I’m going to hit it.”


Point guard Justin Robinson led the eighth-seeded Hokies (21-12) with 19 points but fouled out after being whistled for a charge with 48 seconds remaining and Virginia Tech down 78-74. Hokies coach Buzz Williams got a technical foul after erupting in frustration. Sexton made one of two free throws and then added two more on Alabama’s ensuing possession to give the Crimson Tide just enough of a cushion.

“I shouldn’t have had a towel in my hand,” Williams said. “That made it look worse.”

The bigger issue for Virginia Tech was an inability to keep Alabama in check. The Hokies forced 17 turnovers but couldn’t slow down Petty and had trouble whenever Sexton got into the lane. Alabama made 20 of 30 2-point shots, including 11 of 14 in the second half.


Johnson paid tribute to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who died on Thursday at age 90. Benson gave Johnson, a New Orleans native, a Super Bowl ring after the Saints won their only title in February 2010 after Johnson served as a consultant and honorary ambassador for the club.

“He meant so much to the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana and so many people,” Johnson said.


Alabama: Sexton might be the thinking man’s version of Oklahoma star point guard Trae Young. Sexton lacks Young’s shooting touch, but his quickness makes it nearly impossible to keep him out of the lane. And rather than force shots late, Sexton tried to get to the rim.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are on the rise in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but success in March remains elusive. Virginia Tech has just one NCAA Tournament win in the last 21 years.


Alabama will try to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004 when it takes on Villanova.

(Image: Collin Sexton, Alabama Men’s Basketball/Twitter)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

6 hours ago

Alabama sheriff pocketing $750,000 in jail-food money draws new attention to old law

A recent report about the more than $750,000 that Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin has pocketed over the last three years in extra “Food Provisions” money has reinvigorated attention into a state law that allows sheriffs to keep leftover money not used to feed inmates.

The report, authored by Birmingham News reporter Connor Sheets, details how Entrekin used the money to purchase a $740,000 home in Orange Beach last September, raising questions of whether the sheriff is doing right by inmates and taxpayers by keeping the money.

Entrekin has defended himself against insinuations of illegality or misconduct, saying he has followed the law.


“The Food Bill is a controversial issue that’s used every election cycle to attack the Sheriff’s Office,” Entrekin told NPR News. “Alabama Law is clear regarding my personal financial responsibilities of feeding inmates. Until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.”

The chief argument against the law used to justify such behavior was summarized by Aaron Littman, a staff attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights who in conjunction with the Alabama Appleseed Center has sued 49 Alabama sheriffs for access to records dealing with inmate feeding funds.

“This archaic system is based on a dubious interpretation of state law that has been rejected by two different Attorneys General of Alabama, who concluded that the law merely allows sheriffs to manage the money and use it for official purposes–not to line their own pockets,” Littman said in a statement in January. “It also raises grave ethical concerns, invites public corruption, and creates a perverse incentive to spend as little as possible on feeding people who are in jail.”

Critics cite the case of former Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett, who was ordered by a federal judge to stop personally taking money from the inmate-food account when prisoners testified to receiving inadequate meals.

Some sheriffs have told a different story about their responsibilities to feed inmates.

Colbert County Sheriff Frank Williamson, one of the sheriffs on the lawsuit, told WAAY 31 in January that he had to take out a $10,000 loan to help pay for meals because the $1.75 per diem per inmate wasn’t covering the bill.

“I had to borrow money to do this on my own personal social security number and I still owe money on that,” Williamson told WAAY 31.

6 hours ago

Licensing away economic prosperity in Alabama

Do you want to alleviate poverty in Alabama? Do you want to curb the power of special interest groups over government agencies? Do you want more affordable goods and services in basic industries?  Do you want to help disadvantaged groups find good jobs and become productive citizens? Do you want to reduce the population of our overcrowded prisons?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should read a new report published by the Alabama Policy Institute titled “The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Alabama.”


Coauthored by Daniel Smith (Troy University), Courtney Michaluk (Troy University), David Hall (Troy University), and Alex Kanode (George Mason University), the report details the effects of occupational licensure on our state.

What is occupational licensure? In short, it’s governmental regulation requiring people to obtain a license before entering into certain trades or fields.

Sounds harmless, right? Aren’t these regulations in place to protect consumers from exploitation and inexpert practices? Such reasoning led to the rise in occupational licensure, which today extends to several zones of economic activity.

However well-meaning, occupational licensure has had unintended consequences on the people it’s designed to protect. Instead of helping average consumers, it lines the pockets of industries that have lobbied to regulate away entrepreneurial forces that drive down costs.

If you’re poor and trying to find low-skilled work as a barber, manicurist, eyebrow threader, hair stylist, school bus driver, or shampoo assistant, you must obtain a license first. This license may be prohibitively expensive because of renewal fees, coursework, continuing education, and so forth.

“Alabama licenses a total of 151 occupations,” according to the report, “covering over 432,000 Alabama workers, which represents over 21 percent of the labor force.” Think about that: more than two of every 10 people working in Alabama need a license to do what they do for a living. Licensing boards governing admission standards and prerequisites can mandate expensive training and dues that don’t affect the quality of industry services.

Economists refer to occupational licensure as a barrier to entry. Barriers to entry ensure that those already within a profession or trade can raise prices to artificially high levels, in effect squeezing out competition by using the mechanisms of government to control the market.

Inflated prices harm low-income families who cannot afford to buy what they could have bought if the market had set prices based on natural supply and demand. Spouses of military service members often suffer from occupational licensure because, when they move from state to state, they must jump through hoops to enter the licensed profession in which they practiced in other jurisdictions.

Occupational licensure is, in short, a net burden on the economy, escalating prices, limiting consumer choice, and restricting economic mobility.  The API report estimates that the overall costs of occupational licensure in Alabama exceed $122 million. That’s a lot of money. What can be done to keep some of it in the hands of the ordinary people who need it most?

The report proposes five reforms for Alabama policymakers:

1. “[T]hey can reform current procedures for extending occupational licensing to new occupations and mandate thorough review processes to ensure that licensing is not extended to new occupations without a demonstrable and severe threat to consumer safety that cannot be overcome with the market mechanisms, such as consumer or expert reviews, reputation, guarantees, or private certification, or the already existing government laws, such as those dealing with liability, fraud, misrepresentation, and false advertising.”

2. “[T]hey can establish procedures to systematically review all licensure requirements for currently licensed occupations to ensure that they do not require unnecessary or excessive requirements or costs for licensure.

3. “[T]hey can systematically review all currently licensed occupations to determine, individually, whether a demonstrable severe threat to consumer safety exists. If not, they can remove occupation licensing entirely for those occupations.”

4. “[They] can explore licensure reforms that specifically target ex-offenders” to reduce the prison population and criminal recidivism.

5. “[They] can … explore occupational licensing reform with military members and their families in mind.”
A short article cannot capture the nuance and particulars of the entire report; readers should view the report for themselves to make up their own minds.

During this time of partisan divide and political rancor, people of good faith on both the left and the right can agree that something needs to be done about occupational licensure. The problem cannot continue to grow. It presents a unique opportunity for Republican and Democratic lawmakers to come together to ease economic burdens on the people of Alabama. Let’s hope they seize it.

(Image: Pixabay)

Allen Mendenhall is associate dean at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty.